Rural settlements – Answer to David Kenyons email re Church Farm

As defined in the South Somerset Local Plan, South Somerset is the largest district in the county covering an area of 958 square kilometres (370 square miles); and has the largest population in the county at approximately 167,861 (2018). South Somerset is largely rural with the population distributed across many towns, villages and hamlets, resulting in a population density of 1.7 people per hectare, less than half the national average.

However, over 40% of the district’s population live in settlements of fewer than 2,500 residents and the district is made up of a mixture of sparsely inhabited rural areas, a network of villages and a number of market towns of varying size and influence. 

The smallest places in South Somerset, the Rural Settlements, vary widely in function and size, but generally are places that provide limited local services. These settlements often have a strong sense of community.

Policy SS 2 defines a Rural settlement as having two or more of the following facilities:

∙ local convenience shop;

 âˆ™ post office; 

∙ pub;

 âˆ™ children’s play area/sports pitch;

 âˆ™ village hall/community centre;

 âˆ™ health centre;

 âˆ™ faith facility; and 

∙ primary school.

The settlements of Bayford, Stoke Trister and Cucklington fall into this category by virtue of having Village Halls, Church and Pub.

However, the application is for one house, not a development in the sense of development as seen in nearby Market Town of Wincanton. This application, if granted would enhance the true rural community and their sustainability.

A precedent has already been set in Stoke Trister by approving 2 houses so far on nearby farmland Church Farm reference 19/00258/OUT. The proposal states “Outline application (including access) with all other matters reserved for the redevelopment of Church Farm buildings and bungalow and erection of 2 dwellings” which was approved in November 2019 by the same case officer, and that was yourself Mr Kenyon. There was also approval for Planning Application No: 18/01991/FUL – Land at Sycamore Farm, Stoke Trister, Wincanton. BA9 9PE you were also the case officer for this application. 

We recall both of these applications were opposed by majority of neighbours, refused before and eventually granted. We do not recall being asked to clarify if SS2 applied then and therefore why are you asking for clarification of whether these settlements are classed as SS2 by the Parish Council. This approval in the wording of the Church Farm application has the potential to open up farmland for further development of many houses whereas the application 20/00638/FUL, is only asking for one house for private residence for the applicants. What is the relevance here?